There’s a magic that flows through the southern United States, making life move just a little bit slower, and the culture seems just a little bit richer. It’s hard to pin down exactly what it is, but it is certainly something that Collins Drive have tapped into with their sound. Playing a soft, indie-tinged blend of Americana, the band hits on a sound that works for them, and that conjures up images of history and roots of American culture. And even though most of the South isn’t quite as hip to cannabis yet as other places in the country are, Collins Drive are major advocates who realize that it is just a matter of time before their beloved home follows suit. CULTURE sat down with Don de Leaumont, vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player, to ask him about the magic of the south, the music he makes and the herb he enjoys.
How did you get started making music?
I started playing music when I was 12 years old. I pretty much wanted to be in Twisted Sister as a kid. I played in lots of bands over the years but started writing music when I was high school, mainly because I wasn’t good enough to learn Iron Maiden songs so it was just easier to write my own songs. I’d like to think my craft has gotten better with time.
How would you describe your sound?
I like to think of myself as a Southern Roots Americana songwriter. I know it sounds kind of generic, but I think it pretty much sums up what you’re going to hear when you hear Collins Drive’s songs.
How does living in Georgia influence your sound and lyrical content?
The people, the culture, the stories handed down from generations, driving down backroads on a summer day, things like that all shape, inspire, and influence me and my writing. The summers are downright oppressive-feeling and the winters are mild yet bitter. In a lot of ways, it’s hard to explain, but if you’ve ever lived in the south or even visited here for a period of time, you get it.
Why do you write songs about the south?
Living in the South is something truly unique, especially if you’re a singer/songwriter or even writer. I just love catching these little scenes of southern living to share with folks. I was born and raised in New Orleans and we seem to be natural-born storytellers. With that being said, we also are masters of embellishing. There’s just something about growing up and living in this part of the country that is magical, and for some reason, folks who don’t live here or who’ve never been here love hearing songs about it. I mean, even The Band had their song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and they were Canadian.
How do you feel about folk rock scene in the U.S. and in your area?
The folk rock is a strange scene, to be honest. It seems to be non-existent, yet there are a bunch of bands. It honestly appears to be a scene that is very spread out, and yet nobody seems to want to work with each other as far as doing shows and whatnot. I don’t know if it’s just the competitive mentality of a younger generation of musicians, or what. Here in Atlanta it seems to be slim to none. But Collins Drive has made friends with some great acts such as The Brookses and Emily Backus, so they’re definitely out there.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
I actually have. In one of Collins Drive’s songs, “Lying in Our Bed,” I sing, “Light up another joint and finish off this beer from last night.” In our song, “The Devil is You,” I sing, “When I wake up, when I shake up, when I roll over and bake up.” I love trying to work in references like that in our songs, mainly because I love getting high as a creative aid and it also tends to set the tone for whatever character I’m singing about. I also have a song called, “I Get Stoned, I Write Songs, Then I Go Back to Sleep,” which is pretty much what I do whenever my wife’s out of town.
How do you feel about legalization so far? What could be done better or differently?
I think it’s so amazing to see the positive impact that legalization has had on folks who live in California and Colorado. I think that if marijuana could ever escape the stigma of being just a “recreational drug” and be seen and appreciated for its significant medicinal, value this whole country and world would be a better place. I think if more doctors and even government officials would speak up and acknowledge its benefits that it would maybe move things along.
How has cannabis affected your life and creative process?
As a bipolar human being myself who has suffered from anxiety for the majority of my life, I can attest to just what healing medicine cannabis can be. It has helped me with everything from full blown panic attacks to dealing with my own social anxieties. As far as being creative, cannabis has this way of allowing you to reach deep into your mind for those stories and vivid images without feeling like you are totally out of control. I love being high and writing. It’s the best.
What is your favorite strain or cannabis product?
I don’t really have a particular favorite strain, but I am a huge fan of the oil for vape pens. I have asthma and smoking pretty much kills me, so the vape pen has been a huge savior for me. I also enjoy 10mg cannabis capsules. Those are actually my favorite. It’s a slow release and they’re perfect for mellowing out for a night, and great as a sleep aid as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I just wanted to thank Addison and CULTURE for having me do this interview. I also hope everyone will check out Collins Drive, and finally, please don’t give up on the hope that legalization can and should happen everywhere. Go to rallies, write your local congress folk, and be an advocate for the positive aspects of marijuana legalization. Educate your family; educate your friends and educate yourselves.
Band Name: Collins Drive
Genre: Indie rock, folk
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Most Recent/Upcoming Album: Collins Drive, May 2017